We pay a price for living in our instantaneous and interconnected world. Everything happens in milliseconds—24 hours a day—7 days a week—365 days a year. At one time there was such a thing as lag time. For all of you millennials who haven’t heard this term, lag time used to be the time that we gave ourselves to complete a task between a request being made of a person and the time that a task was completed. For example, my dad worked in the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s as a claims adjuster. Email and cell phones didn’t exist then, so his calls were fielded by secretaries who took messages for him, and he would call into the office in order to get his messages. This added time to the time in which he was called by clients and when he got back to them. In the 80’s cell phones and pagers started to come into play but were used by well-heeled businessmen (stock brokers, doctors, lawyers etc.) only because these services were quite expensive.
Personal computers only started coming down in price for the average person in the late 80’s and early 90’s, but the internet hadn’t started functioning yet so email was still in its infancy. Faxes were available and cell phones started speeding up communications. With the internet taking off, people had to start dealing with the expectations of senders. Stress levels of average workers started to increase because of the compression of the lag time, people came to work to find 100’s of emails with each sender expecting an answer yesterday.
With the advent of the smart phone people are in constant communications. Expectations are at an all-time high. One only has to take the bus to see people typing away at texts to their friends over social media. My question is who is serving who, how healthy is all of this to people, what are the implications on the stress levels?
When I was studying Communications Studies back in the 80’s I remember attending a documentary which discussed the advent of editing in filmmaking. In old films from the 30’s and 40’s movie scenes were longer with fewer cuts. As we moved closer to the end of the 20th century the amount of cutting increased to a feverish pitch. People needed more and more stimulation. If you go to any action film today you know what I am talking about. This stimulation has crossed over to all of our communication devices today. I believe that being constantly in touch has its price. We as human beings need to rest and recuperate. Our nervous systems need a chance to downshift from constant stimulation. I don’t think that our nervous systems have been able to adjust to the rapid stimulation of today’s communications. And in fact I believe it has the effect of fracturing our concentration—too many channels are coming in and we cannot process all of it. Also, I question the quality of communications with so many channels.
Could part of the reason that many people self-medicate with drugs and alcohol is to reduce the stress of this over-stimulation. Maybe people need to look at alternatives by turning off their devices, go for a walk without their phones, to take a meditation class, and do exercise? The key is to take a vacation from devices.
Yes we do pay a price for constant connection, however, we are the masters of our own way we live our lives we just have to learn to take a break from technology.